Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Personal Diaries Gone Hi-Tech

After having an issue with identity theft (believe it or not ... someone actually wanted to be me), I have learned how easy it can be for someone to become you ... and quite frankly, it involves virtually no effort at all on the thieves part. I read an article today about how when people buy new cell phones, they typically either give their old phone to a friend or sell it for a minimal amount just to get rid of it. Either way, even if the old owner follows the memory deletion process perfectly, private information such as; credit card numbers, bank accounts and passwords, personal and corporate emails, contacts, old text messages and anything else that was ever stored or sent/received can be retrieved by inexpensive software found on the internet. Basically, a $40 cell phone bought from eBay can potentially be transformed into the best identity theft tool on the market. We are truly in the information age.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pilots Needed Apply Inside ... Literacy Optional

Comair Flight 5191 departing Blue Grass Airport Lexington, Kentucky crashed yesterday morning killing all 47 passengers and two of the three crew members on board, only the flight's first officer survived but sustained critical injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that the control tower did not have the required amount of personnel inside, as mandated by the FAA, to safely operate. What's worse is that a review of the recorded airport radio communications revealed that flight 5191 was cleared for takeoff on runway 22 and the pilot, again required by law, repeated his clearance for runway 22 back to the controller ... yet somehow attempted to depart on runway 26. Obviously the screening process for pilots is not nearly as rigorous as it is for the passengers. As if missing the taxi signs that indicate which runway you're about to enter weren't enough, the ace pilot also missed the painted numbers on the runway, the fact that the runway lights were not even lit signifying a closed runway, never bothered to check the compass heading (which would coincide with the runway number), and must have been too busy to listen to the airport ATIS before takeoff. It's comforting to know that commercial airline passengers are forbidden from packing even they're basic essential toiletries in the name of homeland security, and the people at the stick and rudder can't even read.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Iraq: v2.0

I was thinking about the situation in Iraq over the weekend after I had read about some British troops that pulled out of a base to go home. The minute after they had left, Iraqi citizens wasted no time stripping the place clean of everything ... and I mean everything. Piping, sheet metal, wood, wiring ... anything, no matter how insignificant, was quickly tossed into the back of a pickup trucks in a finders keepers manner. Supposing these supplies were needed for basic living needs, this truly puts into perspective the dire situation in which these citizens live and further supports the theory that honestly ... our boys will never get out of there. Supposing these supplies were taken for resale and personal profit, again reaffirms the poor living conditions Iraqis face daily ... although one could argue that this could also be a landmark step in free enterprise too. Regardless, since we have found no weapons of mass destruction our purpose for toppling the government and occupying the country really has no point at all (excluding keeping our thumb on their oil supply). But now, we can't just up and leave because we have completely disrupted their way of life and the U.S. would carry a black eye for abandoning a needy country. What a mess indeed. Any way you look at it, when we pull out Iraq will ultimately fall right back to its old ways and habits rendering our efforts completely moot. Didn't we learn anything from Vietnam?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Preferential Treatment Of "Stars": Too High For The Law To Reach?

Michael Jackson is back in the news again, but this time (for once) the publicity has nothing to do with the mistreatment of children. Apparently, Michael Jackson has monetarily fallen behind with a local art gallery that he hired to frame some of his paintings as well as still owes for the purchasing of dozens of Norman Rockwell prints (all of children at play) and wanted them all framed as well. Since the gallery owner needs to settle the tab, the anonymous business person is considering auctioning off these two enormous mural portraits created by Jackson on eBay. Oddly enough, both paintings are self portraits (go figure); one depicts Michael frolicking with Peter Pan and the other is of him dancing in a rainbow of colors. Although the profits from the proposed sale would not benefit Jackson directly, I'm sure these two paintings would rake in quite a few bucks if auctioned online. When is the public finally going to give up on and ignore this sicko? "King of Pop" my foot ... the man is a walking freak show that harms kids. If he were anyone else, he would be registered on the Megan's Law list ... what else is there to say?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Now Here's How To Cook The Books!

A Farmingville, New York woman allegedly stole more than $2.3 million from her employer between June 2002 and November 2005 to buy lottery tickets. Annie Donnelly, who was employed as a doctors office bookkeeper, would write company checks for cash, petty cash, or checks payable to herself and falsely list them as payments to vendors associated with the medical office in order to purchase as much as $6,000 worth of lottery tickets a day ... imagine getting stuck in line behind her! The local Assistant District Attorney had this to day; "She obviously had a gambling problem, she appeared to be caught up in the high of winning." ... although I personally would beg to differ about the whole "winning" thing. Upon reading this story, I've learned two life lessons; 1) This is proof positive that no matter how much money you spend on lottery tickets, you'll never hit it big. 2) I should have went to Med school, because what's more amazing to me than the fact she blew this enormous amount of cash on Powerball and scratch off tickets is that nobody noticed such a substantial sum of money went missing ... man, I'm in the wrong business!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Public Health Nazis Strike Again

British censors plan to go through Tom And Jerry cartoons frame by frame to edit out all scenes in which any of the characters are smoking. I guess the Brits run a an extremely close second place to the United States when it comes to not seeing the forest from the trees. British broadcasting censors feel that children watching this program may be more inclined to use tobacco products after seeing their television friends do so, so in the name of public health Tom and Jerry will be going cold turkey. Violent scenes which include anything from intentional electrocution, to being cut into tiny pieces with a butcher knife, to deliberate pyrotechnical displays with the intent of inflicting bodily harm, to tricking someone to eat their own tail ... that content is perfectly acceptable for young viewers with developing brains and would never be tried or imitated. This type of censorship bothers me because smoking is one of the many choices adults make ... just like any other lifestyle choice we make like consuming alcohol, how we drive, or the language we pick to use in our vocabulary. Rather than raise children who demand the world to change for them, "brats", why not teach children to respect adults and the privileges of choice that adults earn with age? Don't get me wrong here, I'm all for teaching kids about living a healthy lifestyle ... but not if it comes with a price tag of putting yet another ignorant, self important, intolerant, close-minded box head in the world.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Making The Grade

Recently, Consumer Reports hired an independent firm to create 5,500 new computer viruses in an attempt to test the makers of virus protection programs ability to discover and/or detect unexpected threats. In return, the software manufacturers and distributors were outraged, citing the unwritten principle that creating and releasing such malware was unethical and potentially dangerous. What are the software companies afraid of ... that their products won't work and Consumer reports will publicize that their virus protection and malware removing products are worthless? As a computer owner, wouldn't you like to know how your digital defenses stacked up against the others? I would. How come you don't see auto makers up in arms about safety advocacy groups taking their brand new products and smashing them for the sake of issuing a crash rating? They too could claim the test results are slanted, but they don't. Auto manufacturers have faith in their product.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Coup Anyone?

As if our military isn't already spread out all over the world "defeating terrorism", now we can add Lebanon to the long laundry list of countries President Bush feels that the United States needs to intercede what's currently going on there with military action to defeat terrorism. In a radio address Mr. Bush stated, "We will defeat the terrorists by strengthening young democracies across the broader Middle East." My interpretation of that remark? Simply put, we will invade and occupy any country whose government does not fit our agenda, or that we cannot easily influence to meet our needs. I guess after the judge ruled Bush's phone tapping program unconstitutional the other day, George W. went back the White House, kicked the dog in the ribs, and decided the American public eye is still too well focused on his complete disregard of their constitutional rights, and the only way get it looking in the other direction was to start more wars. Thank God the presidential term is only four years long ... and he just hasn't found the time to get around to changing that one yet.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Has Driven A Ford Lately?

There ... it finally happened ... the American public has finally spoken! Ford Motor Company announced it will temporary shut down 10 assembly plants across North America in an effort to cut its fourth-quarter production by 21 percent. Due to a withering demand for pickups and SUVs, the auto giant has no choice but to pull back production. I, like countless other Americans, would like to attribute this lack of vehicle sales to that overplayed possibilities commercial that is yet, many months after it's debut, still airing on just about every commercial break on every network. I do feel sorry for the families whose relatives may be out of work due to this cutback ... but, I would like to take this opportunity to say IN YOUR FACE FORD ADVERTISING EXECS!!! Maybe you should take your own advice and "go where you want ... do what you please" ... AND FIND ANOTHER JOB!!! Apparently the old adage was incorrect about hearing something enough times and it becoming the believed truth, because trying to sell cars through subconscious repetitious advertising obviously didn't pan out for you ... God knows you've tried.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Earth: Eventually In The Bulls Eye?

Good news ... the International Astronomical Union has set up a special task force to monitor the heavens for comets and asteroids that can potentially strike the Earth, although there are currently no counter measures in place (or even close to being developed) for such a situation should the group find a space object that may be on a crash course with this planet. But, at least I can now sleep easier at night knowing somebody is watching out for me ... whew, what a load off my mind. I guess that early detection for this kind of event is essential for getting the word out quickly around the world so everybody has a chance to be informed as to what is about to kill us all ... because the world does have a right to know. What's worse is that anyone surviving such a disaster (providing the damage is localized) is really in for shocker when they find out their insurance policies for their home, car, business and just about everything else, only cover meteor damage ... not asteroid or comet damage. Boy, that would just ruin my day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

AOL Set To Dig For Buried Treasure

Last year, America Online won a $12.8 million dollar settlement against Davis Wolfgang Hawke (and won the case by default judgment because Hawke failed to appear in court) after suing him for violating federal and state anti-spam laws by sending unwanted e-mails to its subscribers. Since that judgment, AOL has been unable to make contact with Mr. Hawke to collect the court ordered payment ... go figure. Apparently, the internet spamming business is quite lucrative because experts believe Hawke and his business partners earned more than $600,000 each month (much of it cash) by sending unwanted sales pitches over the internet for everything from loans to pornography to jewelry and prescription drugs. Not to be outdone, AOL has been doing their homework and has discovered receipts that supposedly prove Davis Hawke purchased quantities of gold and platinum bars, and it is believed that he buried these possessions in his parents yard to avoid them being seized by authorities. Now ... here's where it gets really strange. The court has granted permission for AOL to proceed with excavation of the property in an attempt to "recover hidden assets". And although the company intends to use bulldozers and geological teams to hunt for gold and platinum on their property, AOL said it will try to accommodate Hawke's parents by not being too obtrusive. I'm really at a loss as to how the court system has the right to set up a makeshift mine on your property without the owner's consent and based solely on circumstantial evidence.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

One Small Screw Up For NASA ... One Giant Leap Towards Decommission

As if NASA needs any more damaging publicity, today media outlets are reporting that the original tapes of the first moonwalk recorded on July 20, 1969 are missing and cannot be found. In all, some 700 boxes of transmissions from the Apollo lunar missions have gone AWOL. NASA spokesman Grey Hautaloma said "We haven't seen them for quite a while. We've been looking for over a year and they haven't turned up." He went on to say further that the material was held by the National Archives but returned to NASA sometime in the late 1970s and "We're looking for paperwork to see where they last were". It's bad enough that the tapes went missing and didn't turn up in over a year ... it's worse that next a public spokesman for the organization then tells reporters they can't find them ... and worse yet that nobody can even find the paperwork as to their whereabouts! For crying out loud, when a moon rock goes on public tour it's more heavily guarded than NASA's own data records!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jerry Springer? Who Next ... "Mini Me" From Austin Powers???

I have never been a fan of ABC's Dancing With The Stars, but I might actually tune in to the season premiere on September 12th for no other reason than because Jerry Springer will make his dancing debut. As do many other Americans, I love catching an episode of the Jerry Springer Show when I can. Even though we all know the guests are actors, there's just something about the rawness of the show we all can relate to ... and for just about all of us, secretly enjoy. ABC is really taking their life in their hands with this one because ballroom dancing will never be the "gentle" sport that it was once considered after Springer gets through with it. I can see it now ... the crowd shouting "Jerry! ... Jerry! ... Jerry!" And one can only imagine what would happen if Springer got voted off ... fist fights in the audience, chairs flying through the air ... the entire set would be pandemonium! Now that is something I would make a point to watch every week. Maybe I'll start my own reality t.v. series called "Ballroom Dance Hall Crashing", and every week the contestant with the lowest combined score of; items destroyed/people injured/and destructive intent and presentation will be voted off by the viewers ... I'd bet the ratings would be through the roof.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Useless Trivia Fact #7

The odds of being injured by a toilet seat in your lifetime are 1 in 6,500.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Point To Ponder

Why is it that if someone tells you that there are 1 billion stars in the universe you believe them ... but if they tell you a wall has wet paint, you will have to touch it to be sure?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Past The Point Of Practical

After the recent terrorist plot had been foiled by British authorities, airports around the globe have beefed up security measures for all commercial flights whether they be domestic or international in nature. In addition to even more rigorous searches and screenings, passengers can also expect extremely longer wait times for boarding clearance and can bet on delayed (if not cancelled) flights. Because of the information that came to light about the planned bombings, airline travelers are now forbidden to carry any type of liquid or gel. All such items will be confiscated by security screening personnel and promptly discarded in the trash. Between the extended wait times, redundant carry on baggage screenings, background checks, lack of basic hydration, and hoping the security computer likes your last name enough not to flag you and cause hours of proving your identity to federal agents that assume your a terrorist until proven otherwise ... it may just be easier and less aggravating to drive.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Sometimes It's Just Better To Quit While You're Ahead

A Las Vegas defense attorney's case was thrown out of court the other day when he allegedly showed up intoxicated for trial. Joseph Caramango explained to the judge that he had been drinking the night before, and was 90 minutes late for the proceedings because his car was rear ended on the way to the courthouse. Mr. Caramango brought a woman that he claimed to be his girlfriend as a witness to support his story. But when questioned she not only told the judge that he introduced her by the wrong name, she also stated that the two had only met twenty minutes ago in a coffee shop. The client Mr. Caramango was representing on this day was on trial for an alleged kidnapping, and faces a possible life sentence in jail. I guess is some cases, it pays in more ways than one to go with the court appointed lawyers. On the bright side, if Mr. Caramango's career as a criminal defense attorney doesn't pan out ... there's no doubt in my mind there is a great future for him in DUI representation.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Obits Have Gone High Tech

In today's world of instantaneous information and communication, I guess it was only a matter of time until a website offered death alerts to the device of your choice. is a site geared for the baby boomers era that offers a wide variety of health tips and other services ... but keyword based death alerts is just a little over the top for me. I've always been the sort of person that got a little frightened when the local funeral director would call you by your nickname and say "see ya later". Some may argue that such a service would prove to be quite useful to individuals that have moved considerable distances from their roots or others who have claimed residency in multiple places over the years. Here's the part I don't understand ... if you didn't bother to keep in touch with them when they were alive, what difference does it make if you found out they were dead?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Chance For The Family To Be All They Can Be

The Army shot down a developer’s proposal Tuesday to build a military theme park on a Virginia Army base. Universal City Property Management, the Florida based developer, wanted to erect a theme park at Fort Belvoir, a few miles from the nation’s capital. The proposed theme park would offer such attractions as a chance to "command the latest M-1 tank" and to "feel the rush of a paratrooper free fall." The Army has since rejected the idea of a park that would "put you in an interactive world where you’ll feel firsthand what it’s like to defend American freedom." (as the developer put it) because they feel war is a serious engagement and should not be trivialized. Personally, I was hoping to take a turn on the IED ride where I could watch my partner blown to bits by a roadside bomb and then taste test a some of Iraq's finest and freshest nerve gases and blistering agents. And if we have time I'd really love to try my hand at "Be A Field Surgeon Without Training Or Supplies Challenge", I've heard nothing but rave reviews of about the incredible realism. War is Hell people ... why would anyone want to glorify it?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Strength In Numbers ... Not Smarts

It never ceases to amaze me that when the number of people involved in something increases, the average I.Q. of the group decreases. By nature, human beings are pretty intuitive problem solvers. So one would only think that when many heads were put together, the limits the group could achieve would seem endless. Well once again tonight I have been reassured that when a large group of people convene with a common goal, absolutely nothing gets accomplished. And when these individuals are at their peak performance, it's not uncommon to actually finish the meeting further behind then when it was started. To all those who found themselves in this exact same situation, I offer this nugget from

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Who Works For Who Here?

There has been a great amount of debate over the recent federal minimum wage increase proposal lately. Whether or not people agree on the matter, the fact is that (adjusted for inflation) the minimum wage is the lowest its been in 50 years. The last time the estimated 7.3 million (5.8% of the workforce) minimum wage workers saw an increase in their paycheck was back in 1997, and many politicians feel that a federal adjustment is not just needed, but long overdue. Other legislators believe that an increase in wages will have an adverse effect on the economy ... yeah, I couldn't quite understand that one either. The adverse effect theory is a little hard to swallow considering that lawmakers in Washington had no problem with giving themselves multiple pay raises over the last decade totaling an increase of $31,600.00 since 1996. Originally, the purpose of electing a representative to serve in Washington was to uphold their respective district's needs and concerns ... what happened?